I started wearing glasses for nearsightedness when I was ten–thick lenses surrounded by those big, colored plastic frames so prevalent in the early 80’s. At thirteen, I finally got contacts (and a cool haircut, and some Big Girl clothes, and shed the shyness–presto! a life!). For the next twenty years I wore contacts until my eyesight got so bad that the lenses were too thick to be comfortable, and I wore glasses from then on. I hated wearing glasses–they always had spots, they bugged the bridge of my nose, and they hid my eyes, which I consider to be my best feature (so few to choose from!). Going without them was out of the question–I can’t remember what my numbers were, but I was so nearsighted that anything past six inches from my face began to get blurry in a hurry. You can see from this photo that even with ultrathin, ultralite lenses, the distortion due to lens curvature made me look like I had two edges to each side of my face: the real edges, then the ones inside my glasses:
I had heard about Lasik surgery but was too freaked out to try it (these are my EYES, man!). I imagined being strapped down and watching the lasers slice through my corneas and fiddle with my lenses, while smelling the putrid smoke from my living, burning tissue. Then I imagined my head being wrapped up in yards of gauze while my eyes healed, and the anticipation of the Day of Unwrapping when, mirror in hand, I would discover that my eyes were Irreversibly Damaged (“NOOOOOoooooooooooo . . . . . . “). Then I would be sorry. Then I would wish I could just go back to the days when the worst thing about my eyesight was wearing out-of-style frames.
But then two years ago, my sister and her husband had the surgery, and they seemed to be untraumatized; in fact, they were thrilled. So I did some research and made an appointment for a consultation. I was told that despite my mega-myopia and astigmatism, that I was a good candidate for Lasik. I have to admit being somewhat skeptical–being what felt like legally blind, I couldn’t imagine that they could really fix my eyesight, it was just too poor. But, encouraged by my sister and BIL, I went ahead and plunked my money on the barrelhead.
On the morning of the surgery, I was excited but nervous. I knew that my earlier visions of mummy wraps and spinning blades were nonsense, but I couldn’t help but worry (my EYES, man!). Still, I was unprepared for how easy it actually was: I followed the doctor and his assistant into the laser room, which was darkened, and I took my glasses off for the last time. Doc measured my eyes on a machine to calibrate his laser, then had me lie down on the table to put in the numbing drops. The room was totally dark except for a dim light directly above my face, and I listened to him tell me to open my right eye wide so he could put on some sort of contraption that kept my eye open–it didn’t hurt, just felt weird. Then he told me to watch the light and hold still. I had been given a teddy bear to hold, and I gripped him tight while I obeyed. “Now the light will fade, and you’ll hear some snapping noises and maybe smell a bit of a burning smell,” he said. I watched the light grow dimmer and smaller until it faded to black, heard five or six rapid popping sounds, and thought I could detect a smoky smell, but before I could be sure, it was over. No pain, no flying lasers, and completed in about fifteen seconds, start to finish. Now, mind you, I wasn’t thrilled about having to repeat the process for the left eye, but less than a minute later it was all done and he had me back at the machine to check my new, reshaped lenses. “Perfect,” he pronounced.
I had been in that room for maybe five minutes.
I was given some dark glasses, eye drops, and warnings that my eyes would hurt some after the numbing drops wore off, but that the best way to combat that was to go home and sleep for a couple of hours, and I’d sleep through the worst of it. I was told that my eyes would be light-sensitive for about eight weeks, that I shouldn’t rub them until the corneal flap healed, and that I needed to use the eye drops every hour or so. And I got to drive myself home.
It’s been eighteen months, and I’ve been delighted with the results of my surgery from the day I walked out of the clinic. My vision is now 20/15, with just a bit of astigmatism remaining, which causes me no trouble at all. My eyes are no more light-sensitive than they were before the procedure, and the only glasses I put on any more are my groovy shades. I consider it to be the best $3,000 I ever spent on myself, bar none. Now I evangelize for Lasik every chance I get, and I’ve won a few converts who are also very happy. If you are weighing whether or not to go for it, I encourage you to at least get the free consultation to see if you are a good candidate, and decide from there. As for me, I’ve got a testimony of Lasik.